Grant TypeHunt Postdoctoral Fellowship
Institutional AffiliationOregon, U. of
Grant numberGr. 9321
Approve DateOctober 4, 2016
Project TitleVenkat, Dr. Bharat J., U. of Oregon, Eugene, OR - To aid research and writing on 'India after Antibiotics: Tuberculosis at the Limits of Cure' - Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship
BHARAT J. VENKAT, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon, was awarded a Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship in October 2016 to aid research and writing on “India after Antibiotics: Tuberculosis at the Limits of Cure.” In both scholarly and popular conversations, cure is frequently taken as an ending—of illness, treatment, and of suffering more generally. What if, instead, we were to approach cure through its limits; through its partiality and fragility; through the many ways in which it falls apart, unravels or comes undone? Drawing on historical and ethnographic research on tuberculosis in India, At the Limits of Cure tells a story that stretches from the colonial period, a time of sanatoriums, travel cures and gold therapy, into the postcolonial present, in which eugenicist concerns dovetail uneasily with antibiotic miracles. This work examines a range of curative reasons as they come up against their limits: in the contrast between idyllic sanatoriums and crowded prisons, through which freedom became a kind of therapy; in ships filled with coolies and soldiers seeking work and treatment across the British empire; in the networks of scientists who developed and tested antibiotics in India as a means of asking whether geography and poverty really mattered to therapeutic success; in clinics where families wondered about the marriageability of tuberculous children who were cured over and over again; and in the reworking of mid-century eugenicist rationalities in the face of contemporary drug resistance in India’s urban centers. As a whole, this work suggests that approaching cure at its limits provides a stronger, less idealized foundation for thinking the ethics and politics of treatment, and medicine more broadly, in India today.